3 steps to cultivate sustainable supply chains

Two trucks on road surrounded by greenery. The image is pleasant and peaceful with the sun shining, all meant to show the significance of sustainable supply chains.

Sustainable supply chains are enduring supply chains. They help companies meet corporate social responsibility (CSR) goals while working toward a better, healthier environment. They can also do wonders for your brand reputation and even save you money. 

But what is supply chain sustainability, exactly? And how can your company safely, swiftly, and sustainably transport products? 

Here are three steps to help meet your supply chain sustainability goals and improve supply chain operations. 

How to cultivate sustainable supply chains

1. Set sustainability goals

While it might sound obvious, you can’t reach your sustainability goals until you’ve laid them out. A recent survey revealed that only 37% of companies have such a plan in place. It may take some time to determine exact goals, but here are a few general ones to consider: 

Prioritize sustainable sourcing 

Sustainable sourcing ensures that the resources you’re using adhere to rigorous environmental and ethical standards. Along with resources that make up your products, sustainable sourcing covers the resources used to do your job. In other words, sustainable sourcing involves everything from procurement of resources to production and transportation of products. 

To meet this goal, you’ll want to ensure that your partners are equally concerned with supply chain sustainability efforts. For example, it’s important that your supply chain visibility SaaS provider makes an effort not to contribute to additional waste. This is why Overhaul recycles and reuse devices rather than throw them away. It helps us reduce our global footprint, and in turn, your own global footprint as well. 

Reduce carbon emissions 

Another important way to create a more ethical supply chain is by reducing carbon emissions. On average, 90% of an organization’s emissions can be traced to their supply chains. This isn’t just disastrous for the environment, but also expensive, and potentially bad for brand reputation. Customers are concerned with the environment, and they want to see companies making an effort to protect it. 

Overhaul’s Command Center helps companies track the emissions of their logistics ecosystem. This information can help you optimize your routes and modes by determining which are the most efficient. We also simplify the reporting process, which will be a huge advantage should future legislation require these reports.  

Improve supply chain transparency  

Supply chain transparency allows you to track and trace your products as they move from warehouse to destination. If your supply chain isn’t transparent, your efforts to improve it will hit a wall. You can’t manage what you can’t measure, and you can’t share information if you don’t have it. 

In the example above, there’s no way to ensure lower emissions if you don’t know what your emissions were to begin with. Conversely, enhanced visibility through Overhaul allows you to better understand what those emissions were and how they’ve changed. This allows you to better understand what’s working and what could further improve. In turn, you’ll be better equipped to reduce waste, decrease your environmental impact, and overall improve supply chain sustainability.

2. Monitor your progress

Once your goals are set, it’s time to monitor them for progress. However, you shouldn’t simply set a goal and wait until end of year to see if it’s achieved.  

By frequently monitoring your supply chain for changes, you’ll have a better idea of whether your strategy is working and where it falls short. This will help you spot new risks and identify potential opportunities in real-time. For example, if a partner fails to meet your sustainability standards, you can take action before it becomes a bigger problem. You might also discover new ways to further lower your carbon footprint, such as by switching to a more eco-friendly mode.  

Continuous monitoring will also enable you to stay accountable to your stakeholders. Sharing even small improvements shows that you’re taking serious steps toward sustainability. This could mean improvements in everything from brand reputation to investments in future sustainability goals.  

In short, if you wait until the year is over, you’re missing out on months of potential improvements. However, if you check in frequently, you’ll better understand whether your sustainability goals themselves are sustainable and have a better idea of where these goals should go next.

3. Update your sustainability goals

Achieving initial sustainability goals is a significant accomplishment, and one that’s worth celebrating. However, even after you succeed, the work is far from over. Sustainable practices are a long-term investment, and sustainable supply chain management requires constantly evolving strategies. 

If your business fails to achieve its goals, that’s just another reason why they need updating. Maybe your expectations were too high. Maybe the steps you took to meet them were inadequate. Either way, reflecting upon and updating your goals allows you to better understand what went wrong and how to fix it. 

Adaptable, evolving goals are also important due to the advent of new technology and regulations. Focuses on AI, renewable energy, etc. will affect both what is possible of supply chain sustainability and what is required. As stated previously, upcoming compliance regulations will also necessitate that you track and report on emissions. Other regulations will likely come into effect, and failing to meet them could mean fines or other consequences.  

Sustainable practices are also part of a larger CSR effort involving better labor practice, working conditions, and other environmental, social, and governance concerns. If a company is truly concerned with sustainability, they should focus on employee welfare and community building as well. When you update your sustainability goals, you get the chance to include new goals that fit this criteria.  

Why sustainable supply chains use Overhaul 

Sustainability is a core initiative among companies. Customers view it as essential, which means businesses must, too. When it comes to supply chains, sustainability means lower emissions, less wasteful packaging, and so many other goals. It also takes the form of everything from warehousing to transportation. 

Overhaul is a reliable partner for in-transit supply chain sustainability efforts. Our visibility software enables real-time tracking, and our compliance support ensures your sustainability goals are front and center. These capabilities also inform a greater offering of risk monitoring and prevention. Combined, we can help you achieve sustainability goals, prevent theft and spoilage, and overall better understand and adapt your supply chain. 

The benefits of supply chain sustainability can’t be overstated. Reach out today to learn more about our sustainability solutions. 

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